The writeups are back. Well, almost. The exile continues until the end of the month at least, (except maybe Folkestone) but at least you now have a rather nice Staines report below, courtesy of the SW19 bureau.
And it does seem that since the Hendon debacle, we’re doing rather all right. From all accounts, W&H and Staines weren’t much at all. I did like the comment on a Staines website that they were the better side, because better sides lose 3-0 at home to teams below them. And I heard precious little peeping out of W&H, though most of them were probably watching Chelski v Fulham..
So, what’s gone right? You can blame the St Albans and Hendon games. After St A, we were on a high, and the comedown in a piddly little tournament was so great that it seems to have bucked us up. Now people are doing something they haven’t done this season – they believe
Of course, starting to find your form about Xmas is something not entirely alien to a team called Wimbledon 🙂 If there’s a good time to get motoring, it’s now. Not in August, or September, but now. Well, March or April is better but by that time you could be out of contention.
A cursory look at the league table suggests all we really need is a good run of form. And from what I’ve seen this season, all the sides above us are do-able. Hell, I didn’t think much of H&R. I certainly didn’t think much of Fisher, and if we can remove the Pook voodoo, Worthing are there for the taking as well. It is, quite simply, in our hands.
Needless to say, when Folkestone beat us, expect us to go into suicidal mode, and various requests to sack DA…..
One other thing, and something that could go in Truth is the attendances for non-league yesterday. For the first time in three years, another team beat our turnout (OK, so we were away). Yup, Chelmsford got about 3k for their return home. Bet they don’t get that again soon, somehow 🙂 Elsewhere, FCUM got a staggering 4328. Christ knows what will happen if we draw them away in an FA Trophy quarter final. They’ll have to move the game to Old Trafford.
In fact, no less than 13 clubs got gates of over 2k in non-league yesterday. While most of them were in the Conference, it does suggest that non-league interest is at its highest for years. Surprised? Not when you consider it costs Â£13 to be an away fan at Barnet and a minimum of Â£22 to go to Loftus Road. Something for our powers-that-be to consider when next setting ticket prices…
Anyway, enough of me. Here’s some Staines for you to mop up…
REPD was on manoeuvres so it was up to the HP8 branch of SW19â€™s Army to report on the first match of 2006 for the Dons. And what a match Stains 0 Drains 3 turned out to be; all the good things from the Boxing Day dicking of W&H with added zest and better finishing. Our last 2 results and current league form mean that the play-offs are within reach, and talk of the title is now classed as â€œpretty optimisticâ€ rather than grounds for being certified as it was a couple of months ago.
As for the game, before the initial exchanges were complete, Staines forgot to mark Urse and, as he was only 30 yards out, he casually volleyed into the far corner for a sixth minute lead. Staines pressurised for most of the rest of the half but, crucially, our defence looked solid and we had a number of chances on the break as the Butts/Smeltz combo worked their socks off. Even our corners looked threatening; Smeltz unfortunately clearing a Frankie header off their line at one stage.
The second half started in the same vein and, after the returning Plummer had made up 30 yards chasing a lost cause to get a cross in, only a defenderâ€™s arm stopped Shane making it 2-0. Once the ref had displayed the red card (only delayed a minute or two by the defenders refusal to get up off the ground … he knew what was coming) Sarge casually slotted in a carbon-copy of his St Albans penalty. Butler then scored after chasing yet another â€œhopeless longballâ€ over the top, before we seemed to settle for 3 and held out comfortably for the final whistle. The problems that Staines caused us even after they went down to 10 men suggest they arenâ€™t as bad as the scoreline looks, so all-in-all a great result against a team who were no mugs.
Anyway, Iâ€™m sure thatâ€™s more on the game than is suitable for REPD report, so on with the good stuff …
Plus points: 3 goals, 3 points. Looked good at the back, in the middle and up front. The bench was pretty tasty too.
Minus points: Iâ€™m struggling here … although Plummer and Urse got knocks so I suppose that might count.
The referee’s a….: Hard nut. Certainly looked it anyway; didnâ€™t give any yellow cards (the red was unavoidable) prefering to glare at the culprit with a â€œdo that again and Iâ€™ll nut youâ€ look. Seemed to cut down the back chat quite well. Had a bizarre moment in the first minute when giving a corner to Staines when their winger headed past the post without a Don within 10 feet of him; but then gave the goalkick once he saw the look of bemusement on said forwardâ€™s face. Biggest problem was the glare of the floodlights from his head caused several cases of momentary blindness in the stand behind the dugouts …
Them: Nice line in â€œStaines Massiveâ€ banners, but couldnâ€™t make out more than a 100 odd of them. Had the cheek to charge Â£3 for a burger, but apparantly they only get a 10% cut from their franchised catering operation so doesnâ€™t actually help them much. (BTW, thanks to a spot of ground-hopping on Saturday I can recommend the cheese in the burgers at Marlow if you ever go there; burger was crap but it was a lovely real cheddar roll once that was disposed of. Why the Hell didnâ€™t the Ryman League play on Saturday anyway?).
Point to ponder: Has the arrival of at least one quality reserve for every position on the pitch helped raise the game of the current holders of the jerseys? Save for the Hendon Westview debacle (which Iâ€™ll happily put down as a blip in a meaningless cup) we have looked very good for the last month. Things are beginning to feel like that first season in the CCL; a gelling team (pun half intended) looking better week by week but chasing a couple of clubs with money given a head start. Hopefully having play-offs may give us the chance to get out of the premier at the first time of asking, unlike the CCL …
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Russell Grant telling the Staines faithful â€œmay the starry force be with youâ€ in a message on the back of the programme. He may look like a swollen yoda but he doesnâ€™t have the same knack with invisible powers. (2) Moke trying to deflect attention from his weirdly coloured red barnet by stating â€œyou canâ€™t make fun of it anymore, itâ€™s almost brownâ€. Must be colourblind. Or blind. (3) DA shouting instructions to Big Butts and Frankie, at least I think it was them, in an accent not heard this side of a Rev Paisley press conference. Cue a chorus of â€œif you canâ€™t talk proper, shut your mouthâ€ from the side; Iâ€™m not sure he saw the funny side.
Anything else? Tin Tin missed the Urse wonder goal because he was busy juggling a balloon with his feet. That would have been pathetic moment of the night, but the fact that Moke missed the goal because he was watching him beat it hands down …
So, was it worth it? Yes. With (jingle) bells on.
In a nutshell: We came, we saw, we whipped their arses.